One of the more recent and alarming trends in the U.S. lately is the use of so called synthetic ‘marijuana.’ While completely unrelated to the natural cannabinoids found in real marijuana, the compounds found in the fake weed provide a high that is said to be by a user “…more like crack than weed” with withdrawal symptoms that can often include seizures, nausea, and anxiety. Also unlike real marijuana, taking too much will kill you.
Another significant concern is that these synthetics have no real quality control. In Illinois, they are believed to already be responsible for four deaths with over a hundred more injured when a batch had been tainted with brodifacoum, an ingredient commonly used in rat poisons.
Synthetic cannabinoid analogs are often known as “full agonists” for the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain. THC and the rest of the natural cannabinoids found in marijuana, on the other hand, are only partial agonists. What this means, when it comes to effects, is that synthetic cannabinoids have greatly exaggerated effects compared to cannabis.
This also means synthetic marijuana lends itself much more readily to abuse than real weed. (As one recovering “K2” user cogently put it, “This stuff is more like crack than weed.”) And, unfortunately, it also means that synthetic marijuana—unlike the real stuff—can actually kill you.
Because of the much greater degree of cannabinoid receptor activation, the brain and body require longer to return to homeostasis (balance) after using synthetic marijuana. Rapid, “cold turkey” discontinuation of heavy synthetic cannabinoid use can result in seizures, nausea, anxiety, and panic attacks. Fortunately, real cannabis, as a partial CB1 agonist, can ease the process of quitting synthetic cannabinoids.
Have you ever tried synthetic weed before? Would you even consider it given the potential side effects?